GW Cohort 9 Publishing eNewsletter

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Wimpy Kid, Library Space, and Website Lingering

Physical Space in Academic Libraries Running Low

By: Andrea Polzin

You might be surprised to hear that despite the publishing industry’s move toward more and more digital publishing, academic libraries are running out of space for their print collections. But according to this Chronicle of Higher Education article, that is exactly what is happening across the country. The question that arises from the dilemma is: what is the best way to handle the situation without losing any books that “make up part of the intellectual record”?

There are several ideas on how to deal with this issue outlined in the article. One main idea is sharing print collections between libraries. In other words, a library can manage and consolidate print collections together with other libraries nearby through partnerships. Another solution is digitization of print volumes. This has begun to happen on several fronts, including through the HathiTrust digital repository.

Three “shared-print” projects discussed in more detail in this article include the Northeast Regional Library Print Management Project, the Michigan Shared Print Initiative, and the Maine Shared Collections Strategy. All of these programs will need to take the concerns of libraries of vastly varying sizes and needs into consideration.

There is seemingly no perfect solution to this problem. Many people prefer to work with print publications, and to remove these from the library means less access – or at the very least, more difficult access.  However, the article states that “a 2010 study estimated that it costs $4.26 a year for a library to keep a book on the shelf.”  There needs to be a happy medium between these two issues. I think that shared-print collections is a good start to finding a compromise.

Full article available here:  (The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard, 7 October 2013)


“Course Packs” at Delhi University Stirs Controversy

By: Andrea Polzin

Three academic presses have brought a lawsuit against Delhi University and a copy shop at the University for creating “course packs” from photocopied parts of multiple books.  The suit was filed by Oxford University Press, Taylor and Francis, and Cambridge University Press.

Many Indian academics have warned against these presses carrying out this suit to the full extent of copyright law, stating that it will adversely affect students as universities often cannot afford multiple copies of brand-new textbooks nor can they afford the licensing rights to reproduce the books. The opposite argument being made by the presses is that the copy shops are making a profit on these course packs, so it is not under any “fair use” provision of copyright law.

It is difficult to pick a side in this argument for me. I understand both sides of the debate and hate to see students suffer because they or their schools cannot afford the best resources. Is this justification for possibly skirting around the law though? Is there a better way to deal with this issue?

Full article available here:  (live mint & The Wall Street Journal, AFP, 9 October 2013)

How Publishing Keeps You Lingering Longer

By: Katherine Weikel has conducted a small study on ways to keep readers interested in publishing websites’ content. After interviewing some of the most popular websites, such as New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, and Quarts, they found some interesting design elements that encouraged their audience to come back for more.

New York Magazine’s website has recently been redesigned to have more of a “human touch.” They include related links at the bottom of their articles to encourage exploration of their site. These links are also curated by the publisher, instead of the automated systems like, Taboola and Outbrain.

The publishers at Buzzfeed recognize that they need to alter their site for easier mobile reading; however, they continue to remain popular with readers due to their promotion of trending articles. Their goal is to feature the up and coming. They tend to focus on not what is popular, but rather what will become popular.

Quartz has found success in holding their readers’ attention by catering to many mobile devices’ format. Their pages have infinite scrolling ability that take the reader to the next article automatically once they’ve reached the end of the previous article.

It’s quite interesting to see how these simple design strategies can mean the difference between success and failure for these websites. It seems that the common element that all three of these successful websites have is usability. Their sites are designed with their readers’ needs in mind, and that translates to a well-organized, aesthetically pleasing webpage.

You can view the article in its entirety here:

Soho Press Relaunches Website

                  By: Katherine Weikel

Soho Press has recently redesigned and relaunched their website to cater more to their readers’ needs. Their new design features include an interactive map, in which their audience can view the settings of Soho’s crime stories. Their new website also promotes direct-to-consumer sales by offering a thirty percent discount off of normal retail price and a subscription option (print and/or digital) for different genres within their press. While their new design encourages readers to buy directly from their site, Soho Press continues to support book stores and libraries.

I think that this was a smart move on Soho’s part. The website will now bring in the revenue by promoting direct-to-consumer sales by offering a considerable discount, while still maintaining regular priced books at book stores. The interactive elements could also help with marketing certain titles by gaining the reader’s attention and interest through exploration.

Review the full article here:

See Soho’s new design here:

Jeff Kinney Shares Secret Origin of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

Kellie Davis

The modest life of cartoonist Jeff Kinney turned into something extraordinary. When his latest book Hard Luck in the Wimpy Kid series releases on November 5th, Kinney is expected to reach elite status with other series like Twilight and Harry Potter, selling more than 115M copies.

Kinney’s book series has taken a seat at the top of the best sellers list multiple times; beating out Tom Clancy and Charlaine Harris for top summer reads. Kinney has been recognized as Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and he’s ranked as one of the top-earning authors in the US, with reports of earning more than $24 million.

As a former teacher, I saw how the Wimpy Kid series changed reading. Many of my students who had little interest in books or who found reading difficult latched onto Kinney immediately. Kinney also created a new genres of children’s literature and his series spawned several other authors who create this comic book novels with relatable characters and quirky real-life incidents. It’s amazing to see how a simple idea can turn into something magical in the hands of a child.

You can read the full interview with Kinney here:


When Print Trumps Digital

Kellie Davis

Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired magazine, runs a website titled Cool Tools, which highlights items from several different categories that actually work well. He turned this project into a book and surprisingly opted to publish in print rather than digital.

It seems obviously that a book like this would function as a catalog, allowing readers to share tools they found interesting, click to purchase online, and have access to many of the other function we find fascinating with eBooks. However, Kelly feels paper books are magical and they allow your brain to connect and react to the tools in ways you can’t do on a small screen.  The way the tools sit on the pages causes you to create relationships with the tools that interweave, making connects that seemed previously far apart.

Kelly proves that technology doesn’t always come in first place when it comes to presentation. He envisions this book as a means to allow readers to explore, discover, and pair these tools in ways that reach beyond the online shopping experience.  His book is a discussion piece, a coffee table art work, and brings to life these incredible objects that we so often neglect to view as something more than practical.

You can read the full article and his thoughts here:


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Cohort 9 eNewsletter: Issue 7, October 21, 2013

This week’s theme is the role of libraries and are children being forced into the digital age. Interestingly enough, we picked our theme separate from last week’s lectures.

Articles in this issue include:

“Books to Advance Brand for McDonald’s”
“The Digital Age is Forcing Libraries to Change. Here’s What It Looks Like.”
“Bringing Up an E-Reader”
“Do You Want Your Kids To Succeed in School?”
“Apple and Textbooks”
“Free Calvin and Hobbes Comics Online”

Quotes, comics, decor ideas and timeline included.

Group members: Judith Gaman, Taryn Gutierrez, Mary Keutelian, Elise Ricotta

Continue reading

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Cohort 9, Issue 6, October 14

Global Publishing Boom
By Courtney Carroll

Each year, the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany becomes home to thousands of book publishers, small and large, and this year was no different.  However, this is the first year that publishers from Afghanistan attended and was praised.  The publishers broke ground for the first time at this event and will not stop there.  The owner and publisher of Afghanistan’s largest publishing company, Mohammed Ibrahim Shariti hopes “to tap into the international network of more than 7,000 exhibitors from around 100 countries … to show his country is back on the publishing map.”

Personally, I could not be happier.  I am a huge advocate for international relations and bringing a country that has been torn apart for decades by conflict back together with publishing is more than I could hope for.  Afghanistan peaked through in the literary market in 2003 with “Kabul-born, US-based writer” Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and followed in 2007 by his A Thousand Splendid Suns.

This is just the beginning of Afghanistan’s wonderful budding relationship with the publishing industry.  International publishing is important if we hope to keep the publishing industry alive and flourishing for several more decades and bringing together countries born of conflict is a great start.

Shariti also commented that “about a third of the population [in Afghanistan] still does not know how to read or right and the printing industry in Afghanistan is still problematic.”  I think that international publishing companies can work together to bring literacy rates up in these Middle Eastern and third world countries.  There are many other struggles that the publishing industry in Afghanistan is dealing with, but hopefully their presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair is the end to some hardships for the country.


Translating English-written Books for Spanish-speaking Readers
By Courtney Carroll

International publishing is dear to my heart.  I have spent almost ten years learning Spanish in High School, College, and on my own.  For decades, books have been translated into English for the majority of people to read, but for the first time, a publishing company will be translating English-written books into Spanish so people who speak the second most common language in the world can read books written in America.

Open Road Media will be teaming up with Barcelona Digital Editions to form Ciudad de Libros/Open Road Espanol.  This will be Open Road Media’s “first venture into the foreign-language e-book market.”

Does everyone realize how exciting this is?  I have been reading Spanish writers for years, but now, Spanish readers will be able to read English writers!  Most of the books that will be available through this new company will release its debut list in “the first quarter of 2014” and its goal is “to do a few hundred titles in its first full year of operation,” according to Open Road CEO Jane Friedman.

My gut always told me that in order for me to be more useful and successful in the publishing industry, I needed to hunker down and learn Spanish or another language.  I was right.  This company is hiring bilingual staff for editing and marketing and I could not be happier.  There will be titles in “popular fiction, literary fiction, and mysteries” that will be from authors that are Spanish, English, and more in coming years.  Literacy rates are sure to take off in Latin America, also.


E-books as Promotional Material
By Barbara Dickson

My attention was caught by a brief release on GalleyCat announcing that Vintage Books would be releasing an excerpt from The Power of Passage, part of Robert Caro’s biography series about Lyndon Johnson. The excerpt costs $1.99 and is titled Dallas, November 22, 1963.

This ability to chunk content and use it as promotional material is brilliant. As a reader, I may not be interested in reading thousands of pages about Lyndon Johnson, but I am interested in the Kennedy assassination—and this perspective (from Johnson’s point of view) is different than what’s normally seen. I’m willing to drop a couple of dollars to read more about the events of November 22, 1963. And who knows? I may find that I really enjoy Caro’s writing style and wind up paying for the entire book.

I’ve noticed a similar strategy with romance novels. Many romance novelists write series of books that follow families, or residents of a certain town. I’ve started reading some of these series through purchasing novellas that only cost a dollar or two (or are free) that provide side stories related to the rest of the series. It’s a small financial commitment and a small time commitment to see whether I enjoy the author’s writing and the characters.

One of my favorite writers, Jennifer Weiner, has released nine full-length novels, plus a book of short stories. In addition, she has written short stories that she has released as eShort Stories that are available for purchase and download solely as e-books.

For these authors, using chunks of material and shorter stories provides both an additional revenue stream and a marketing opportunity. In the case of Caro’s book, he has already written the material, so it requires very little effort to provide exposure to an audience he may not have accessed before. For authors of fiction, writing these briefer works provides an additional artistic outlet and a low-risk way for readers to be introduced to their work. Sample chapters can be great for fiction, but as a reader, I appreciate being able to read how an author formulates an entire story.

And even if I hate it and never want to read anything by that author again, well…that’s still $1.99 out of my pocket and into Amazon’s/the publisher’s/the author’s.

Read the full story at


When Is an E-book Necessary?
By Barbara Dickson

The responses of 1,400 members of the American Mathematical Society showed that across ages, mathematicians valued both print and electronic versions of their books. There seems to be an audience for both print and electronic versions of books, and the article “Bringing eBooks to Book” delves into the question of Why?

In publishing, e-books have become something of a buzzword. It’s the next thing in technology, so companies feel that it’s a world they have to rush into, without necessarily thinking about what they’re hoping to accomplish. There’s a fear that the company, if it doesn’t offer ebook versions of their titles, will be perceived as being behind the times. Consequently, even without looking at what the audience wants, companies might rush forward into producing a product that nobody actually wants.

This article goes into detail about what publishers should take into consideration when they move into the world of publishing e-books. Should it be outsourced? Should it just be an electronic version of the print product?

E-books can be so much more than just an electronic version of a print product; however, technology still has limitations on what we can do with electronic books. For the moment, it doesn’t seem that electronic books are the end to print—they can supplement and bolster the print products, but print isn’t dead.

And publishers need to examine their mission and business model before rushing into the world of e-Publishing. If you put the effort and time and money into producing an ebook and nobody buys it … is looking progressive enough of a justification?

Read the full article at


Those DAM Yankees (and Digital Trends)
By Joel Dulin

The world is trending digital, so it seems. Digital asset management (DAM) companies, which seek to facilitate e-content production of materials produced in the heavily New York-world of publishing, are pressing their services to presses in light of the digital revolution. One such company, Yudu, is now even producing user-friendly workflow systems to assist less-than-tech-savvy press staff members in creating web-ready content1. Yudu stresses a reading future heavy in tablet technology produced by Microsoft, Google, and Apple2. But what does this company base their assumptions on that long-form e-content will proliferate? Publishers’ overall sales of digital items still pale in comparison to their physical ones, yet because it’s projected that digital will only become more popular, they’re investing zillions of dollars to perfect the perfect DRM-clad text file. But is the push toward digitalizing book content more hype than necessity? According to Ann Mack, it may be.

Mack works for JWT Intelligence, a company that specializes in spotting trends. As reported on EContent, she began following a trend in 2010 or 2011 that had to do with how millenials spend their time. What she discovered has profound implications for the publishing industry. Although millenials spend plenty of time online, there is a trend toward what she calls “de-teching.” Essentially, teens and young adults are purposefully spending time away from technology and engaging in the physical world. As Mack puts it, “As our dependency on technology rises, so too will our desire to dial it down, at least temporarily, so we can be present in the offline now and see people face to face and engage with them in reality rather than in virtual reality3.”

In terms of the publishing, this means people like to pick up books, not e-Readers. And it has more to do than just a generational preference in form.

Apparently, people seem to prefer, and are perhaps better at processing, short-form information in digital form rather than long-form information. ANCILE Solutions Inc. has taken this lesson to heart. The company trains its employees digitally and has found that it is better to provide them content in “snack-size’ bites3.” Christopher Sardone, who works with TeliApp, says that in a similar manner to ANCILE, “Short, time-sensitive content that holds little long-term value – like news articles – are better for tablets and e-Readers than lengthy content that will be used frequently and continuously over a long period of time3.”

Other sources back up these claims. Paige Lester in her article “5 Powerful Ways to Connect with Your App Audience: The Importance of Engaging Mobile Content,” notes that people tend to use digital in short snippets – particularly smart-phone users. It’s mainly in the evening that people sit down with their tablets.4 This means, of course, that people by and large aren’t reading anything long-form on their phones; they’re scanning headlines, throwing birds at stones and pigs (the Angry Bird game, for those who didn’t get the reference), and checking their email accounts. And as for their tablets – they aren’t necessarily reading. In fact, book sales in forms that will be read on tablets have been less than to e-Readers. Chances are, they’re playing with other apps, checking Facebook, watching Netflix, et cetera.

Now, this isn’t to say all this talk about digital book sales are boloney. I’d have to be quite ignorant of the industry to assert something like that. On the contrary, there is a huge future in digital sales, but the strength of digital books won’t simply come via the text being in electronic form. Their strength of sales is going to come from their enhancements. Certain publishers, considering the enhancements possible with digital technology, are developing apps that use book metadata to localize content, so words in a children’s book could read “ill” in Great Britain and “sick” in the United States5.

In light of the changes that digital has brought to publishing, it’s important for publishers not just to digitize their content but to understand how people interact with digital content and what type of works do best in digital form. Understanding these trends means that a publisher can better focus its time and money producing valuable digital content for profits greater than that they are currently gleaning.


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Cohort 9 Newsletter, Issue 5, October 7

To Imprint or Not to Imprint?

By Julie Wilson

This week, Disney-Hyperion announced a 2.5 million first printing of The House of Hades, the 4th book in the Heroes of Olympus series.  Although I am absolutely impressed by this announcement, reading the article brought to mind the issue of imprints and branding.  It only makes sense that Disney, an internationally known brand recognizable by people of every age in every corner of the world, would include the word “Disney” in their imprint.  People associate Disney with quality, enterprise and success.  Why then, do all six of the largest, most well-known publishers create tens and even hundreds of lesser known imprints?

In 2007, Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, spoke at the Book Expo America conference about large publishers moving away from imprints.  Thomas Nelson had just removed 21 imprints in an effort to prevent “watering down” their brand.  He argued that readers read the authors they like and the genres they like but rarely pay attention to the “brand” or imprint.  Why then, would a publisher invest in promoting lesser known imprints, when readers don’t care anyway?  Seems like a fair argument.

In 2011, Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd, argued in his blog that with the increasing popularity of self-publishing, large publishers ought to decrease the number of their imprints and promote their brand in order to assist readers in distinguishing major publishers from self-publishing imprints.  Bransford basically argued that consumers are paying attention to the imprints in order to stay away from low quality, self-published works.  Bransford’s argument suggests that publishers should keep imprints to a minimal because consumers ARE paying attention to the imprints, whereas Hyatt argued that imprints only clutter a brand because consumers ARE NOT paying attention to them anyway.  Either way, where is the value in imprints?

Of the many daily publishing practices that have been effected by the advent of e-books and self-publishing, how the publishing community thinks about imprints is one.  I must admit, that until recently, I never paid attention to a book’s imprint.  Which company published the book mattered not to me as long as it was well-written and one of my preferred genres.  Recently, due to self-publishing imprints popping up all over, I have begun to pay attention to imprints.  I have been the victim of a self-published, literary offensive piece of junk that a self-publishing imprint called a book and refuse to repeat that mistake.  The only way that I will consider reading another self-published book is if I am familiar with the author.  That being said, it would seem wise for large, well-known publishers to either begin minimizing their lesser known imprints or perhaps, take the Disney approach and incorporate their big name in their smaller imprints.  Brand is King!

Please find the original articles here:

(R)evolution of the Publishing Industry

By Julie Wilson

David Vinjamuri, a brand specialist and Masters Program Professor at NYU, points out, in his article on, that through all of the whining and complaining, Random House handed out $5,000 bonus checks as a result of its profitable year and Simon & Schuster are remaining on top, partly due to their signing of previously self-published authors.  Although restructuring “traditional” publishing and embracing e-publishing has proven to be painful for large, structured publishing houses, it has been necessary and in spite of the resistance and  the whining and complaining, it has proven to be profitable.

It is a good time to be a publisher and a great time to be an author.  E.L. James and Hugh Howey, among others, are providing the credibility and authority that the self-publishing industry needed in order to grab the attention of the traditional publishing imprints and take things to the next level.  And, conversely, the traditional publishing houses needed to see authors taking the proverbial bull by the horns for them to see how much money they are losing by refusing to embrace the new era of publishing.

Much in the same way that Expedia, Travelocity and have changed the travel industry by providing competitive pricing and published customer reviews, Amazon and self-publishing models have changed the publishing industry.  Hotel and travel was forced to respond and such is the case for publishing.  The cherry on the top is that the numbers are in, and they are looking promising for the future of publishing.

Please find David Vinjamuri’s article here:

On a Lighter Note

By Julie Wilson

Cohort 9 is half way through our first semester!  To celebrate, click on the link below for some industry related humor:

Dispelling Misconceptions of Self-Publishing

By Linzy Novotny

“My Amazon bestseller made me nothing,”

“Self-Publishing an E-Book? Here are 4 Ways to Leave Amazon’s 30 percent Tax Behind,”

In March, Patrick Wensink put to rest rumors that he was a millionaire from becoming a bestselling author on Amazon. Published in Salon magazine, “My Amazon bestseller made me nothing,” Wensink describes how little money there is in writing. “It’s not because we’ve chosen a life of poverty. It’s that poverty has chosen our profession,” he said. “Even when there’s money in writing, there’s not much money.”

And what did being a bestselling author on Amazon net Wensink? Pre-tax, the author made $12,000 on his bestselling novel, “Broken Piano for President.”

Maybe this just goes to show that Amazon is in some way making up for lost revenues by selling e-books below cost, not to mention the company takes a 30 percent fee.

Wensink also noted that, “But when a friend of mine, who is a terrific writer, told me he was offered $5,000 for his latest book, which came out on a major publisher, it left me kind of flat.” This shows that the publishing companies don’t have the funds to offer up more of an advance on a book. This may be because the author is an unknown, so they aren’t sure how many copies of the book will sell, or perhaps because the publishing companies have to compete with the low prices that Amazon is selling books for, they are struggling to compete.

Broadening on Wensink’s stance, Michael Wolf of Forbes sees that, “Sure, paying only 30 percent is a heck of a lot better than the traditional splits an author would get through big publishing, but 30 percent is still a heavy tax, particularly if the author is bringing much of his or her own sales by promoting to their own network,” Wolf said.

In “Self-Publishing an E-Book? Here are 4 Ways to Leave Amazon’s 30 percent Tax Behind,” Wolf explores self-publishing platforms other than Amazon. Wolf stated that designer Nathan Barry earned $200,000 publishing on Gumroad. Other options are Sellfy, DigitalDeliveryApp and e-Junkie.

However, Wolf advises that authors without a following should still go with Amazon if they wish to self-publish because it is more likely that their work will be seen. “Amazon and other e-book publishing platforms have worldwide scale and hundreds of millions of built-in customers. Those without an audience – and many with an audience – just can’t beat what the Amazon marketing engine can do for their sales,” he said.

Both articles show that self-publishers are up against their own popularity. If they have a following then they might sell books. This can also show the value in tradition publishing houses because these houses have the means to market the books and get them into readers’ hands. Although it is harder to get a book published through traditional means, the system is in place so, at least hopefully, books with content of better quality are published.

Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For a Fee 

By Aubrey Bourgeois

There is a difference between reading an article from an academic journal and an online blog. We give a credit to journals that they will have certain authority to them. In this article, Richard Knox set up a sting to see if online academic journals keep to the same code of honor as traditional peer-reviewed journals. Sending out a research paper full of obvious errors (fake authors from a fake university, data that was faulty, irregular experimental procedures) he wondered how many journals would actually accept the piece for publication. Surprisingly, more than half of the over 300 journals he submitted to accepted his proposal… for a price. Many of these rogue journals appear as though they are legitimate presses, but it is the profit they are interested in. With the pressure to “publish or perish” now stretching globally (the highest concentration of accepted submissions was in India where the weight of publication is quickly increasing) it will become harder to determine which online journals are credible.

Please find the NPR article here:

Is the War Between Librarians and E-Publishing Coming to a Close?

By Kristin Gonterman

Ever since e-publishing became a reality, libraries across the United States have struggled to strike deals with publishing companies for access to digital copies of books. The publishers charged what the American Library Association (ALA) deemed an unfair price for the copies (in some cases higher than the average customer spent on an e-book) and restricted access to certain titles. And even then, several publishing companies outright refused to sell to libraries, unsure of how to approach the situation

But recently deals have been struck between the ALA and the “big five” of publishing—Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, and MacMillan—to begin selling e-book copies to libraries across the country. This is a big move, because it means that thousands of titles that would have been only accessible in print are now available for anyone to read on their e-reader. And although the content will now be considered free, it can officially coincide with every library’s mission statement: To provide access to published works for the good of the public.

Of course, there are still some issues to be worked out between libraries and the publishing industry regarding e-books. There are many publishers who have not made any deals with the ALA, meaning that there are still titles that cannot be rented from the e-reserves. And even though these deals have been struck, there are still restrictions in some instances that the “big five” have enacted, such as limiting access to certain geographic zones. Yet even with the challenges that have yet to be faced, the steps that have been taken in the last year between publishers and libraries have been in the right direction.

For further reading, consult:

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Cohort 9 Newsletter, Issue 4, September 30

“Do All (types of) Writers Have a Stake in E-Pub prices?”

by Michelle Harvey

In a recent post on Slate, its business and economics correspondent Matthew Yglesias doesn’t disagree that writers—he is one, he reminds us—are rightly frustrated that bundling books (print + digital) results in both economic and perceptional devaluation of book production costs. But, as he opines in “Writers Need to Stop Complaining About Amazon Making Books Cheaper,” the market is just operating as it always has, making certain professions obsolete as technology introduces ways to do things better.

“Price-reducing changes often look terrifying … to individual groups of producers, but that’s how progress is made and living standards rise,” he says, citing examples in other industries as well. He goes on to say, “The fact of the matter is that cheap books are a boon to society, and people who think reading is important ought to see it that way.”

Does it make a difference that Yglesias is a news writer covering current events and affairs on a regular basis, rather than a novelist or researcher whose livelihood depends on bulk dissemination of works that take months or years to generate? Are there subsets among “people who think reading is important” who feel differently about the value of a book?

Read the full post here:

“Big Publisher Stumbles Entering Self-Publishing Arena”

by Michelle Harvey

In an effort to tap into the self-publishing movement, Penguin in 2011 launched Book Country, providing a suite of production service packages with fees ranging from $99 to $549 per book. Only months after Book Country’s inception, however, self-publishers were crying foul with accusations of price gouging and otherwise taking advantage of inexperienced writers who don’t have a full understanding of the process.

In the royalty structure, Penguin takes a standard 30 percent cut from authors, then charges an additional 30 percent to upload the work to retailers like Amazon, a step that authors could take themselves, for free. There also may be an implicit assumption that working with the Big 6 publisher might eventually result in a publishing deal. Successful self-published author David Gaughran says, “A much-desired carrot is being dangled in the form of a potential publishing deal with Penguin. … Their backing will lead to some confusion.”

Penguin defends Book Country, saying that the services it provides are superior to those offered on other free sites, and that taking a percentage of sales is de rigueur. The company also does not suggest that writers using the service will have any subsequent publishing advantage.

Whether Penguin is justified in charging for the resources it has on offer, it seems to be a bitter pill for those in the know.

Read the entire article here:

“Is Amazon a Necessary Evil?”

by Kally Lange

Blogger Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader tells authors to sell on Amazon, a “necessary evil”.  A September 23rd post titled “How Not to Succeed as an Author: Tell Readers “Please Don’t Buy my Books on Amazon” was prompted by the recent requests of some authors to not purchase their books through megastores such as Amazon in support of independent book sellers.  Hoffelder sees these authors as working against themselves since “An author’s interests are best served by getting as many copies sold/ read as possible.”  He goes on to state author websites with links to Amazon make the buying process simpler which leads to more sales.  In turn, the authors on a mission to spread the sales around are putting links to a variety of indie book stores including the option to preorder from a local store of the reader’s choice.

It is refreshing to see authors supporting small businesses.  Bill Petrocelli, author of The Circle of Thirteen, stated, “As an author, it’s in my best interest to spread sales around and get as many stores involved as possible.”  My philosophy is “to each his own.”  It should be the author’s decision on how to promote their work on their website.  In this case, the author is the decision-maker on how to balance personal feelings on ethical business practices and profits.

Read the full post here:

Additional information:

“Penguin’s Return to OverDrive”

by Kally Lange

Penguin left OverDrive nearly two years ago due to OverDrive’s “exclusive deal to enable Kindle lending.”  The exact concerns with this policy were never released, but there have been critics of Amazon’s ability to collect data from OverDrive’s library users.  Penguin returns with the added “friction” of sideloading required to complete lending of Penguin books.  Major publishers wanted the inconvenience of traditional libraries to be present in e-book lending, too.

The article relates the customary practice of physical libraries problems, traveling to pick up books and returning them, to sideboarding.  Sideboarding, using a USB connection instead of air downloading, is an inconvenience but not a big one.  For a dedicated library user, this challenge will not impact their choice to borrow from a library over purchasing the book.  Most users will be happy with the addition of over 17,000 Penguin e-books.

Read the full article here:

“Which Publishing Method Fits Me?”

by Kaci Riley

Stanislav Fritz writes about the pros and the cons of the publishing world in his article entitled “EBook Publishing – Good News and Bad News” posted on the Pacific Lutheran University Creative Writing website. Fritz compares eBook only publishers to Do-It-Yourself publishers, as well as small book publishers and presses with both print and ebook offerings. He says an author has to be careful when pursuing ebook-only publishers, as some have “no quality control in either the manuscript screening or the ebook creation process.” Fritz claims that many online publishers are frauds, only looking to make money on expecting authors. He goes on to say that authors may not have to worry about this with DIY organizations, but they do have to worry about being taken seriously. However, there are a few reputable DIY publishers Fritz mentions that seem to be legitimate. Finally, Fritz discusses the small press/book publishers of the world. I agree with him when he states that using “a small publisher that really understands eBooks, yet still produces print books for market perception…should help limit the pool one examines for submission.” By limiting said pool, a publisher can raise his chances of finding a gem of writing.

Personally, I believe that Fritz has it right. All of these methods have their pros and cons, but for now the small press/book publishers have my vote for best choice for authors. At least the authors that want their works to become well respected, easily accessed, attractive pieces.

Read the full post here:

“Bookstore Battlegrounds”

by Kaci Riley

In her blog on *blogcritics entitled “How Amazon Killed Barnes & Noble, and Why We Don’t Care” Erica Verrillo discusses the battle between Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and how that affects the readers and the writers of the world. Verrillo claims that even though “Barnes & Noble had a better product, a better reputation, and a farther reach than anyone else in the book selling business” it just wasn’t enough to beat out the business strategies that Amazon is putting out. She goes into details on how writers can give their eBook away using Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program. Readers can get a book for free, creating readership for the author. B&N doesn’t do this. Verrillo claims that B&N just can’t keep up with Amazon’s publishing rates. According to Verrillo, “Books in popular genres could rack up 20,000 to 30,000 downloads in a single weekend.” She ends with this “Amazon is happy. Writers are happy. Customers are happy. Everybody is happy. Except Barnes & Noble. Which is dead.”

Honestly, I disagree with Verrillo on her main focus. She claims that because Amazon is rising in the ranks so quickly, that B&N is already as good as dead. Granted, Borders took a hard road, but that doesn’t mean B&N has to do the same. If they can get their act together and create a great strategy, they could hold their own in this fight. Even though people like their eBooks, there’s still something about shopping at a bookstore and holding the books in your hands as you read the inside cover that just takes the cake. If B&N can harness that, they’ll be golden.

Read the full post here:


Cohort 9 Newletter, Issue 3, September 23

“The Decline of Attention Spans and its Effect on Literature”

By Denise Remy

At the 3rd International E-book Symposium in Mexico City, writer Hernán Casciari expressed his concern over the overall diminished attention span of readers. He blames technology: “The digital era has made us lazy and apathetic, and our stories, our literature, are losing their shine.” He also relayed a story about his daughter. Cascaiari was telling her the “Red Riding Hood” story and his daughter asked why she didn’t just text her grandmother? He asked the audience at the symposium to “think of a well-known story and then put a mobile phone in the pockets of one of the protagonists…” So, what does this mean for literature? For publishing?

Casciari’s observation about the quality of literature is valid. Where are the modern Hemingways and Austens to enlighten and inspire readers? Instead we have post-apocalyptic death matches and sparkly vampires. But what can we as future publishing professionals do about it? There is no way to remove technology from the equation so publishers need to discover the best way to get higher-quality literature into the hands of readers. Maybe it is time to return to the short story, or newspaper serials, so to speak. In a world of decreased attention and increased thirst for quick and easy information, breaking up a heavy-duty story into chunks may grab more attention than a 500-page hardback novel.

Read the full-article here:

“Is EPUB3 the answer to Educational Publishing?”

By Lillian McAnally

As a publishing professional working in the continuing education arena, how our organization delivers content in a digital environment is challenging us to consider alternative delivery methods.

One of our top sellers through the bookstore web page is a textbook on internal auditing. Do a search on Amazon, and it’s the only one of its kind on the topic. So, now the authors and the organization want to create a digital version of it. Aside from the questions of ROI (return on investment) to develop a digital version, protecting the IP, etc., the other big questions are, “does it make sense to use EPUB3 for this textbook?”; “how well has it worked for other textbook publishers?” and “should we sell, rent or both?”

According to an article by Bill McCoy, Executive Director, International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)[1], The Association of American Publishers is pushing the publishing industry to speed up adoption of EPUB3. For most text-heavy content, the ROI of development may not be worth the time, money, and resources. However, for textbook (or content where interactivity warrants multimedia), there are many benefits to create an EPUB3 version such as rich media, interactivity, and fixed layout support. 

Regarding e-textbooks, McCoy states[2]:

For e-textbooks it’s going to be de rigeur to have integrated assessments, video, rotating 3D models, graphs of equations that are “live,” and other features that will require other parts of HTML5.

And while EPUB3 makes sense for textbook publishers, the rest of the publishing industry may not be so quick to adapt to it.

[1] Bill McCoy,, “Why Publishers Are Making a Push for EPUB3 Now,” (July 25, 2013); accessed September 22, 2013.

[2] Ibid.

“New Kindle App from Amazon”

by Elli Gilbert

The new operating system for iPhones was released Wednesday (9/18) and Amazon took this opportunity to revamp the Kindle app. As I operate on an Android device, I find the average iPhone user a tad overzealous about a simple software update. This past week all I’ve been hearing about is iOS7 from friends, family, and even a couple beta testers! And while an operating system update is hardly news to me, I find Amazon’s attention to their mobile application to be quite impressive. With this huge Apple update, Amazon took the opportunity to revamp their Kindle app and create a better user experience for mobile.

Read the press email here:

Though I am not an Amazon fan, I do have the kindle app downloaded on my phone but I normally use Google Play Books or my Nook app for my e-reading. I have found that Google Play Books has better prices than Nook, but the line editing and coding tends to lead to typos and poor display quality. I prefer using the actual Nook e-reader rather than the application, as Nook segregates and classifies your purchases and recommendations. It’s as though I’m always stuck between reading on my phone and wanting to read on an actual device. And the vast differences between software on a device and a mobile application are normally enough to make you throw up your hands and just go get a paperback.

The new Kindle update is going to incorporate all the best parts of the e-reading experience without the necessity of an e-reading device. The new Kindle app will have an improved viewing experience and more customizable features to organize your library. Kindle is introducing the “Collections” feature with this new update. This will allow you to tag and sort your titles, documents, and newsstand subscriptions into multiple categories and lists. This type of innovation will undoubtedly draw new customers with these new features and improved display. Not only is this a software update, Kindle has redesigned the entire aesthetic experience, opting for a display focused on “deference, clarity, and depth.”

See the new display here:

I would have to say I am impressed with the new display options and versatility of the newest Kindle update. I use my smartphone for everything and I know how a well-designed mobile app can change the entire user experience. When you provide a visceral experience for both the brand’s device AND its mobile application, you are able to gain the trust of your customers which leads to higher retention rates and builds brand loyalty. And it is this type of consumer allegiance that has helped Amazon become a market monopoly.

Check out more articles here:


Cohort 9 Newsletter, Issue 2, September 16

“Hybrid Author Hugh Howey on Self vs. Traditional Publishing”

This article from Publishing Perspectives brings us an interview with “hybrid” author Hugh Howey, an entrepreneur who has found success in both self-publishing and traditional publishing.  Howey brings a unique perspective: an author who wants to cultivate long-lasting relationships with both his readers and with traditional publishing houses.  He doesn’t see e-books as competition for print; rather, he thinks e-books should be an add-on for print books, which he says would boost sales for print books.  He has many other revolutionary ideas about publishing and what the industry does and doesn’t do for consumers.  Howey’s perspective is somewhat idealistic but he has some really refreshing ideas that the up-and-coming publishers in our class can appreciate.

View the original article here.

“Changes Coming Slowly to Penguin Random House”

This article from Publishers Weekly gives an update on the recent merger of Penguin and Random House, now referred to as PRH.  As imagined, the changes have happened very gradually, with only a few changes being made since the July 1 merger.  For the most part, employees have the same titles and same job functions, and much of the selling and acquisitions is still done separately.  One of the next major hurdles for the company–employee healthcare–will be addressed by the start of 2014.  I find this article interesting because it gives us an honest portrait of the difficulty of merging two large, successful companies, and I am anxious to see how successful PRH will be.

View the original article here.

“The Rising Value of Land in Book Titles”

Alex Williams discusses the idea that there are “fashion trends” in book titles, whether the trend refers to a specific word in a title, such as “nation,” or the structure of a title, such as a string of words like “Eat, Pray, Love.”  The article mentions that while publishers desire to create original titles, a book’s title is incredibly important to how well the book will sell.  If a book has a “trendy” title, it might sell better than the same book with a different title.  Some retailers will even choose not to sell a book if its title is not commercially appealing enough.  This article is a reminder that each component of a book must work together effectively to create a successful project.  While the content of the book is important, even the best work will fail without the right marketing, price, design, and even title to go along with it.

View the original article here.

“Lynn University Adds iPads, Eliminates Freshmen Textbooks”

Lynn University, a small private university in Florida, has purchased iPads loaded with educational materials and apps for its freshman class this year instead of traditional print textbooks.  The main benefit of the iPads is the money they are saving.  While students paid an estimated $1,100 per year for print textbooks, the iPads cost $329 each.  Students also enjoy the interactive quality of the online textbooks.  On the downside, electronic textbooks are still not affordable enough to completely tip the market in their favor.  While e-textbooks are cheaper than brand new print textbooks, it can often be more affordable for a student to rent a textbook or buy one second-hand than to buy an electronic textbook.  Purchasing iPads for each student might be feasible at a small school like Lynn, but larger schools are unlikely to follow suit soon.  Students will most likely continue to utilize rentable textbooks until electronic textbooks are made more affordable or the benefits that come solely with the electronic versions outweigh the added cost.

View the original article here.

“Tyndale House, NavPress Form Publishing Alliance”

This article is published in Publishers Weekly by Lynn Garrett.  He talks about the merger between publishing companies Tyndale House and NavPress.  There are benefits and drawbacks in business mergers.  NavPress will continue to have its own identity and control of its authors’ contracts, but some employees will be let go during the next couple of months.  The article goes on to talk about all the changes that will take place.  This article shows what happens when two companies merge, which is quite beneficial for those of us who want to pursue careers in the world of publishing.

View the original article here.

“Finding Excellence in Educational Digital Publishing”

This article is published in Digital Book World by Deanna Utroske. Digital media and its impact on education are addressed in this article.  This is a question-and-answer segment with Ira Wolfman, president and chief consultant at POE Communications: Educational Content Development and Print-to-Digital Transformation.  Wolfman talks about the transformation of education with the digital age of publishing.  Digital publication forms of education, like McGraw Hill’s Networks: A Social Studies Learning System, engage students more and get them more excited to learn.  Instead of textbooks, companies like McGraw Hill have published online learning systems for today’s students.  Wolfman goes on to say that “a break-through for 3-D learning looks very promising right now, but when it will actually happen is uncertain.”  Wolfman’s insight into the world of educational media is both enlightening and informative for up-and-coming publishers.

View the original article here.


By Sarah Echard, Kaitlyn Evensen, and Chloe Fisher